You’ve got a pretty cool mix in Virginia-Highland. There are some really nice homes lining these narrow streets that have been restored impeccably—it’s these lovingly maintained Craftsman and Victorians for which the neighborhood is known—but there are also some low-key studio spaces for rent, tucked away inside of ‘20s-era townhomes.
It’s a commuting town (but to be fair, what part of Atlanta isn’t) that’s super close to the city, but it’s also a neighborhood where people can walk down the street at night, and not feel like anything bad is going to happen to them.
There are some great restaurants, like quiet eateries with glasses of wine served on white tablecloths, but there are some bustling fast-casual setups, too, which cater to the nightlife set. Trendy art galleries are set up next door to old hardware stores. Posh boutiques rest alongside edgy hair salons. The thing is, it all blends together seamlessly, like a Starbucks barista chilling out on the front porch as a Fortune 500 VP for a sunset cocktail and some chitchat (which, incidentally, is something else that you’ll probably see on a cursory stroll).
There are families, students, singles, young couples, retirees, business people, artists, boring folks, eccentric folks, you name it. They all live here because the want the same thing: to be close enough to the city so they can experience it whenever they want, but to have a quiet place to retreat to, that feels like it’s anywhere but just outside the heart of the South
Highly ranked public schools
An emphasis on walkability, whether it be neighborhood amenities, or to neighboring Midtown
A quick commute, offered by proximity to the major interstates and surface streets
Some really good schools in close proximity
Safe streets, close to the city
Historic homes with loads of character
A ready-to-move-in home that doesn’t need a lot of work (most of the homes here have been fully renovated)
A few really good, easy restaurants just down the street (for nights when cooking just isn’t going to happen)
A nice part of town to get around by bike.
While nobody refers it as such in conversation, you’ll frequently see the abbreviation “Va-Hi” used in reference to this neighborhood (in writing, anyway).
Though Va-Hi may feel tucked away, it’s actually really easy to get to Piedmont Park, which is only a few blocks by foot. Residents of this part of town love the fact that they can get to an outdoor concert series in the park without having to worry about getting around.
Being so close to the center of Atlanta has some drawbacks (traffic, mainly), and the approach into Virginia-Highland, especially from the north, can be an arduous one. Find a resident who works close to where you do—chances are, they’ve come up with a clever alternate route of backroads and quiet streets that allows to shave hours off their commute each week.
Virginia-Highland is particularly popular with families; there are some great options for education located right in the neighborhood. Samuel Inman Middle School is an especially popular option, but here’s a complete list:
Elementary School: Springdale Park
Middle School: Inman
High School: Grady
It’s not very large, but John Howell Park, located in the middle of the neighborhood, is a lovely patch of green space, and serves as a base for some of the street festivals that take place throughout the year. Here’s a complete list of neighborhood parks.
North Highland Park
John Howell Park
New to Atlanta?
Whether you’ve already slated your move to Atlanta, or are just considering this city as your new home, you’re likely going to be doing a lot of research. Every city has nuances, history, quirks, and jargon that can be confusing for newcomers, and Atlanta is no different. We’ve taken the liberty of providing a few basics with our Atlanta Beginner’s Guide. Check it out, and you’ll be feeling like a local in no time.
Ponce de Leon Avenue runs along the southern edge of Va-Hi, with Monroe Drive lining the western end, and North Highland Avenue to the east (the latter two offer access to the northern neighborhoods. Meanwhile, a network of back roads and quiet streets allow residents to get in and out easily, from pretty much anywhere.
The entrance to Freedom Parkway lies just to the south of the neighborhood, on the other side of Ponce. A quick drive grants access the the I-75/I-85 Connector.
Va-Hi lies a good distance north of the nearest MARTA rail station. However, if you fancy a stroll, the Beltline connects to this neighborhood closeby, and a 20-minute walk down this foot path will put you only a few blocks away from Inman Park-Reynoldstown Station.
Virginia-Highland was already enjoying its reputation as one of Atlanta’s most inherently livable close-in neighborhoods, but when the massive Ponce City Market opened its doors, complete with restaurants, shopping, and lifestyle opportunities, residents were thrilled—it’s literally right across the street. 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE.
The intersection from which this neighborhood gets its name also plays host to some of the neighborhood’s most noted dining and shopping spots. Fontaine’s Oyster Bar is an old-school, perennial classic; Moe’s and Joe’s serves up (literally) the best burger in Atlanta; Press and Grind is a perfectly funky little coffee shop—the list goes on.
This old-school, strip mall movie house, flanked by an Urban Outfitters and a 24-hour diner, has garnered a reputation as a quirky place to catch a flick, especially during one of their monthly Screen Scream nights (yeah, this is totally the kind of place that does full-on Rocky Horror showings). 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, (404) 873-1939, plazaatlanta.com
This easy-going neighborhood outpost is one of the hottest (and newest) names in Atlanta barbecue. Come for the stellar pulled pork, and stay for unexpected delights like a bacon-covered custard popsicle. 1190 North Highland Ave. NE, (404) 249-5000, dbabarbecue.com
Va-Hi’s friendly neighborhood pub, featuring a full beer menu, some British-inspired bites (with a Southern twist, of course), and some local favorites like trivia night. 752 N. Highland Ave. NE, (404) 872-1001, thehandinhand.com
Waffle House’s older, more elegant sister, Majestic serves up malts, hash browns and blue plate specials 24 hours a day, and has since 1929. It’s packed at 3 a.m. on Saturdays, because, you know. Hangover prevention. 1031 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, (404) 875-0276, majesticdiner.com
This is where we’d usually incorporate some factoid about the neighborhood’s history, but we’re making an exception, because this is important. There’s a Trader Joe’s on the west end of Va-Hi. You can walk there. Think about it: never having to worry about parking in a Trader Joe’s parking lot again…